Posted on April 25, 2012 by Marina
What do you get when you mix in a brewery, gourmet pop-up food and art?
A one of a kind event called “The Next Food Truck Event” as organized by OntarioFoodTrucks.
OntarioFoodTrucks is “a group of food truck owners and food truck enthusiasts raising awareness for street food in Ontario. Most cities in Ontario have strict regulations against new gourmet food trucks. We’re trying to change this.”
It’s an ambitious goal and a delicious path to making it happen. The Next Food Truck brought together food vendors that are interested in or progressing to a food truck model showcasing their Gourmet Food Truck menu, along side artists hungry to express their vision of what the future of the food truck can be.
We chatted with the organizer of FoodTruckEats and some of the leading gourmet pop-up vendors in Toronto. Here’s a look into what’s going on in Toronto’s burgeoning gourmet street food culture.
So, what inspires someone to start Ontario Food Trucks?
Founder, Suresh Doss shares his story.
What is Ontario Food Trucks and what is your role with the OFT?
I founded the OFT association as a way to bring all the food truckers together for future events and to further our goal in making street food a more permanent fixture in Ontario cities. There’s an overwhelming amount of support for Food Truck Eats and all things street food. Plus I have a personal interest in global street food, having grown up in Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and Nigeria.
Why do you think the food truck movement has been so successful and which direction do you see it heading?
The movement has been really successful because of the allure of truck food, the Eat St. show, and the fact that the Ontario trucks aren’t around all the time. I see that in the next year or so, trucks will slowly start getting integrated into the city’s landscape where they partner up with spaces for regular appearances.
What are some of the industry challenges?
Perception of what food trucks are — most people think they only serve certain kinds of food, and that they’re dirty and unhealthy.
BIAs are threatened on behalf of restaurants, but restaurants themselves (cooks and chefs) love the concept. Miscommunication there.
What are your favourite pop-up food trucks and dishes?
There are a number of pop-ups that are focusing on international cuisine, from Egyptian food to Hawaiian and Latin American. Some of this stuff is really wild, and is a marriage of Toronto’s multicultural influences and desire to support local ingredients. Think empanadas, but how about empanadas stuffed with water buffalo meat from a farm near Stratford.
Pop-up Spotlight #1: Fidel Gastro’s - Rebels Without a Kitchen
For those who haven’t yet heard, what is Fidel Gastro?
I am Fidel Gastro. Not a chef, but a rebel without a kitchen. The el presidente of Toronto’s pop-up food scene. The idea started over a year ago as a brick and mortar location. I couldn’t afford to do it, so instead of taking on a massive debt, or all-together quitting- I came up with this food experience approach that didn’t rely on four walls and a door, and instead used social media and collaborative relationships to create Fidel Gastro sandwich pop-ups all over Toronto.
What made you go into the pop up food truck business?
I used to work in marketing/advertising as a copywriter but I always loved food but never really saw my food passion translate into a line cook job. Fidel Gastro’s was an opportunity to marry my marketing brain with my food heart. The pop-up business model actually came out of necessity. I knew I needed to do Fidel Gastro’s right now, but I couldn’t afford to do it the way I had originally envisioned it. So I simplified the idea down to a pop-up operation and it’s proven to be the best possible direction to test my brand and product.
What’s the inspiration behind your unique name?
To be honest it just kind of happened. My days as a copywriter taught me to write quantity and variety. So I took a sharpie and a big piece of paper and started writing names down. For whatever reason I wrote Fidel Castro…. then I turned the C into a G. Voila! Fidel Gastro is born. Bought the URL on the spot.
Favourite dish to make?
Hmmmmm. At the end of the day I love to cook unpretentious food. BBQ is where my heart is. Steaks, whole fish, veg… you name it. I always feel right at home next to the grill.
What does the future hold for Fidel Gastro?
I try my best not to make predictions. Everything I do is both fun and strategic and I want to keep it that way. I’ll stay positive and continue to work my ass off and I know only big things will happen. Food trucks, bigger collaborations, packaged goods, books, different food projects will all be part of the Fidel Gastro umbrella of experiences.
Spotlight #2: Rock Lobster Food Co
What made Rock Lobster go into the pop up food truck business?
Lobster was once a food for peasants as it was cheap and abundant. Rich kids would go to school with peanut butter sandwiches and the middle class would have lobster sandwiches and risk being laughed at. Obviously over time this perception has changed a lot. Being lobster lovers ourselves we found that people in Canada and especially Toronto only really eat lobster on a birthday, wedding, New Year’s Eve, and other celebrations. Rock Lobster Food Co was started to change all that! We’re bringing fresh East coast lobster back to the masses to enjoy everyday. We do this by removing the difficulty in potentially preparing it yourself, keeping prices affordable for everyone and removing any pretentiousness.
Favourite dish to make?
Mmm tough one we are best known for Toronto’s best “authentic” lobster rolls but I love the lobster poutine, with our homemade bisque gravy. Can we choose two!?
Want to be at the next event? Keep in touch with http://ontariofoodtrucks.com/